One year ago, after a blissful weekend of celebration, skiing and friendship in Norway’s mountains, I said goodbye to the land of ice, snow, and the midnight sun. It was a bittersweet moment. My experience in Norway represented so many turning points in my journey. Much like the yin and yang of Norway's midnight sun and polar night, I experienced it as both an idyllic utopia, and a harsh, frigid land of isolation where I was left to fight for my health and my livelihood. While I experienced both dualities of light and dark, above all, Norway was a place and a phase of incredible transformation on a level that I am only just now beginning to understand. It was taken a year of reabsorbing and reintegrating into the flow of American life to fully assimilate the lessons of my two and a half years abroad.
As an expat, I recognize that I am a member of a small, but significant community of people who have chosen to live as a minority on foreign soil. While I have been reticent to put pen to paper with my experience, for fear of not doing the experience justice with the quality of my writing, I realize that this is silly and writing is as much about authenticity as it is about perfect prose.
Behind the scenes, I’ve been hard at work this year developing my writing skills. After a brief stint as the Editorial Manager for a local travel magazine, I’ve committed to this craft in new and unexpected ways. I’ve started reading grammar books written by my grammar goddess cousin, Constance Hale. I also picked up a daily free writing journal practice. The best yet was kicking off my 34th year of life with an Adventure Writing Workshop taught by one of my heroes, the talented Charlotte Austin. At first, I held off launching this blog because I wanted my writing to have a home on a beautiful site. This fall I finally finished the site, but I held off once again because I wasn’t sure I could commit the time to maintaining a blog. After months of much deliberation, research, reading, postponements, and doubt, I’ve decided it’s time to stop writing everyone else’s story while neglecting my own. I hope this new blog will be an opportunity to marry my passions for travel, adventure, photography, and words and give you stories more complete than just what I share on social media. Alas, I digress.
As for the subject of this post, over the past year, I have also come to the understanding that I have been given a tremendous gift of perspective with travels. As my wise parents taught me from an early age, perspective is one of the most powerful and valuable assets a person can acquire. Reflecting on this, the words of Spiderman come to mind - with great power comes great responsibility. It is the responsibility element that I have been reluctant to claim until now as the lessons had not fully revealed themselves to me with complete clarity. So for those of you asking for me to write and share, my apologies for taking so long to get to it! My hope is that my story is now more fully developed, and ripe to be told than ever before.
Since my return, I’ve been on many missions to establish myself. It has been a whirlwind of soaring personal breakthroughs, crippling physical breakdowns, overshadowed by the overwhelming pace of American culture. Reintegration and reestablishment have perhaps been even more daunting than the “culture shock” or in my case, lack thereof (which I hope to address in this blog series,) connected to my relocation to Norway. This harrowing reintegration experience is possibly the subject of another post, but what I can say now, is that after a year of toiling with health, finances, creative purpose, and the simple recalibration of my internal rhythms to keep pace with a culture that moves faster than the speed of light; I am adjusted, I am synchronized, and I am ready to share the lessons from the experience that have redefined my worldview.
Writing takes time, and I look forward to working on this project, little by little, one sentence at a time over what I will hope will not exceed the next month, or two at the most. This entire blogging objective started out with the idea of a single post listing seven ways living abroad changed my perspective, but as I started listening to the page, the ideas and words began flowing from me. Rather than torture you all with a 10,000+ word post, I’ve decided it best to break it down. One lesson, one reflection a week until we’ve covered everything. I hope you enjoy this journey, and I look forward to enriching my story by sharing it with all of you. The lessons begin soon!